In a 2012 Sporting News Midseason Player’s Poll, the Cleveland Browns organization was voted as the worst organization in the NFL. Not good.
Believe-land used to be a place in northeastern Ohio that gave orange and brown clad fans real hope in a playoff contender just a few short years ago. Sadly, the hope was false and as the 2013-14 season draws near, the Cleveland Browns still have only one postseason appearance since returning to Cleveland in 1999. The one lone appearance in 2002 ended quickly with a first round loss to Pittsburgh.
Year after painful year, the term “rebuilding” can be heard among faithful Browns Backers worldwide. To be blunt, if the recent rebuilding moves are a foreshadowing of what Brownie fans can expect in the near future, the future is bleak. My apologies to Jason Campbell and David Nelson enthusiasts, but aside from linebacker Paul Kruger and defensive end Desmond Bryant, who combined will rack up 75 million over the next five years, the money toting Browns have been eerily silent over the past month. Many Cleveland fans expected new owner Jimmy Haslam to come in and bulldoze Randy Lerner’s old place down and rebuild. Pre-draft, the Browns have certainly been doing a lot of bulldozing.
During the 2012 season, the Browns statistically had one of worst seasons in the NFL in points (24th), yards (25th), passing yards (19th), and rushing yards (24th). Red Zone situations and second half stats were even worse. Old man rookie QB Branden Weeden at times looked confident, anxious, and confused — sometimes all at once. As NFL fans were treated with highlights from arguably the best batch of Rookie QB’s since the Elway and Marino class of 1983, rarely a highlight of Branden Weeden was found. Like a nerdy teen left at home without a date to prom, Weeden was not invited to the dance. Pimples and glasses couldn’t be blamed for the snubbing in this case. Erratic decision-making and mental toughness were the real culprits.
Looking at the off season transactions so far, the front office has done very little in fixing the much needed offensive void through free agency. Mr. Haslam and GM Mike Lombardi will rely on the draft and look to provide new offensive coordinator Norv Turner youth and inexperience. What in Jim Brown’s name is happening on the banks of the Cuyahoga?
The Cleveland Browns are not only a rich part of NFL History, they are a part of American History. A crucial part. The NFL is synonymous with Jim Brown and Otto Graham. They are right up there with Walter and Johnny. So as an objective fan of the game, how could you not be frustrated with what is happening on the “mistake by the lake”.
A true NFL legacy could just be collapsing into irrelevance.
The Browns aren’t strangers to bad moves since returning to Cleveland in 1999. If you are a Dawg Pound enthusiast, you may not want to read these. The pain, I am certain, is still as vivid in your canine minds as “The Drive” or “The Fumble”.
1. Drafting Tim Couch. Hindsight is always 20/20, but the Browns passed up on Donovan McNabb for Couch. Epic fail.Couch never used a playbook at Kentucky. In fact, his coach, Hal Mumme, used to draw up plays for him in the dirt. Not on a grease board or chalk board. Heck, not even on a piece of notebook paper. On dirt. Shockingly, Couch never did quite master the phone book that was the Browns playbook. The writing was all over the wall on this guy. Quite honestly, the number #1 pick with new Browns was the mistake that set the tone.
2. Head Coach Hiring. Pat Shurmer, Eric Mangini, Romeo Crennell, Terry Robiskie, Butch Davis, and Chris Palmer. The Browns have gone through coaches about as often as dog sheds (pun intended). Maybe Chudzinski will finally be the answer. Don’t hold your breath.
3. Hiring Mike Holmgren as President. I liked this hire initially. Holmgren came in with a solid resume and Super Bowl winning attitude. For whatever reason, he was never given the keys to the kingdom. Chalk it up to a bad front office and a former owner who didn’t want so spend money.
4. Throwing Colt McCoy Under the Semi-Truck. The way McCoy’s stay in Cleveland was handled was completely unacceptable. He was never given anything to work with. To this day, I still can’t believe the Brown’s training staff put him in the game after the James Harrison hit in Pittsburgh.
Good luck in San Fran, Colt. The weather is nicer anyway.
5. Trading away Phil Dawson. What else do I really need to say? The Browns traded away their potential number one scorer of all time. Aside from Joe Thomas (who was actually a smart move) the locker room will now have one less seasoned veteran to lead and mentor this young team.
The time is now, Cleveland. Your city and fans are getting tired of believing. They need to start seeing.
BY AARON BRATKA ON APRIL 10, 2013